This investigation explored observer interpretations of relational messages associated with nonverbal conversational involvement and cross‐validated observer interpretations with those provided by participants. Observers each rated five 2‐minute videotaped segments from interactions in which untrained confederates greatly increased or decreased involvement. High involvement, and the specific nonverbal cue complexes associated with it, conveyed greater intimacy (immediacy, affection, receptivity, trust, and depth), composure/relaxation, equality/similarity, dominance, and formality than low involvement. Observers showed high consistency among themselves in their interpretations and some correspondence with participants, a finding which offers qualified support for a social meaning model (i.e., that there are consensually recognized meanings for behavior). However, participants showed a positivity bias, assigning more favorable interpretations on average than did observers.
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